Showing posts with label first in series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label first in series. Show all posts

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Book Review: Dead by Morning by Kayla Krantz



Obsession is deadly. No one learns that better than Luna Ketz, a pessimistic high school senior. She wishes more than anything to graduate but things don’t always go as planned. Luna quickly finds herself trapped in a web of lies and murders, spun by the least suspected person in her hometown. It’s not long before she realizes she’s being targeted by the person she despises most in the world. When Luna figures out who is behind the killings, things make a turn for the bizarre when she is contacted by a friend she has not heard from in years. It is then Luna realizes she is very much in danger, but although she can avoid the killer in reality, she cannot avoid him in her dreams.


What a brilliant introduction to the series Dead By Morning makes. Here’s a horror story with heart – but it’s of the pulsating, thrilling kind.

Luna and Chance are the main characters, but readers will enjoy the interplay and realism between Luna and her father. This is a well written coming of age story that seems to be going one place before Chance decides to take things into his own hands – literally.

"It is almost like we are inside Luna’s head, just a nano-second before things just happen to her."

The horror genre has been done to death, but there are shades of great originality within the pages, and though it is a long story, it does pull you along.

I didn’t know what to make of Chance – and in the first third of the book, I bet readers won’t either. It works because we are not spoon-fed information before it happens. It is almost like we are inside Luna’s head, just a nano-second before things just happen to her.

This is a strong debut that cannot be dismissed as yet another YA story. There are more in the series so I would like to see where this goes.

Luna may not be a character one instantly warms to, but she is drawn out of realism, and I actually prefer a girl with flaws than some honey-dewed Mary Sue. It was the braver decision by the author to create her this way, and the story is all the more powerful for it.

One of the best blood-curling stories I have read for a long time.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Book Review: Pierson (Meager Boys Story, #1) by J Kahele



After his father's passing, Pierson Meager is left with much responsibility, undertaking the running of the family business and the fathering of his three younger brothers. For all the changes in his life, things are comfortable, uniform, and exactly how Pierson likes it—until an agreement with a stranger turns it upside down.

Susan Coyle is a driven woman, so when the position of Marketing CEO opens up at her company, she will do whatever it takes to land that job, even if it means cutting a deal with an absolute stranger. What Susan doesn’t realize is that this stranger will not only show her the real importance of life, but he will also unearth a tragic past she fought so hard to forget.


Pierson is arguably J Kahele's best written novel to date. The lives, loves and lows of Pierson unfold in her latest adult romance. What's especially pleasing to see here is a strong focus on story, not sensationalism. The cool erotic scenes are there aplenty, but it's arguable that the titular Pierson and 'woman of interest' Susan are the most rounded out characters here.

The dynamic between Pierson and his brothers is well done and anyone who has a brother (or is a brother) will understand how that relationship works. Again, Paxton, Phoenix and Preston all have their own ways about them, but Pierson is by far the most interesting.

"Few writers can write with such authority on mature relationships." 

Another huge step in the author's mature storytelling is in the relationship between Pierson and Susan. She is no weak willed woman, but neither is she an over the top facsimilie of annoying feminist heroines. Susan actually feels the kind of woman anyone could walk into but rarely do in real life.

I also liked the reintroduction of character's from the author's other stories, including some self-deprecating humour when talking about a character (Chain) 's name.

"Chain? What kind of name is that? What's next? Link?"

Loved that, along with the insightful thoughts on why Blu (another character) swears so much. Fans of Miss Kahele's works can have a lot of fun joining up the dots.

As to the primary story, wow - few writers can write with such authority on mature relationships. That's why I hope some male readers will take a punt and have a go at Pierson. It's important to behave like a gentleman in a relationship, guys. It's good to let the woman of your dreams really be the woman of your realities. Love is never boring, weak, or for the faint hearted, and in this electrifying tale in an all-new series, we get it all. Boy, do we.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Book Review: Gates of Heaven by Pamita Rao


An empire ruled by evil and fear; a king obsessed with greed for greater power and desire to conquer other realms.
Alaira has just stood up against the tyranny and committed the most serious crime in the kingdom. If captured, she will face brutal punishment. With the King’s men on her back and his dark magic against her fate, she is on the run in a race against time.
With no place left to hide, her only hope is to escape through the Gates of Heaven, a mythical portal to other realms. But there is a problem. To reach the Gates of Heaven one must cross the enchanted forest and no one has ever survived it before.
Will Alaira find the Gates of Heaven? Will she be able to escape Creed or will she meet the dreaded fate of every criminal in Myrth?


It is so difficult for any writer of fantasy to come up with something new. I have read and am in the process of writing two reviews of debut novels by fantasy authors, and I needed the break inbetween to read other genres so as to review and critique them fairly.

New author Pamita Rao brings a freshness to a jaded genre with a detailed, interesting world of Myrth, which has its own qualms and quirks. In an early scene, a man is forced to drink the liquor he has brought for the king, and in doing proves - or otherwise - that it is not poisoned. It's done well as a scene, and there are numerous scenes like this throughout the book. It is extremely well written, with great characters in this detailed, magical world.

"It's such a pleasure to read a new author voice." 

I must give a special mention to the cover art, which is outstanding and really pulls you in.

Gates of Heaven is ultimately about young buck heroine Alaira coming of age. The evil Creed threatens the security and safety of the world, and it seems our young girl has her work cut out to defeat him. On her introduction, I wasn't sure if she was up for the task (the ultimate task, as it happens at the Gates of Heaven in the book's closing chapter).

The story works because you really are swept along at great speed. The story starts brightly and keeps up the pace throughout. It's such a pleasure to read a new author voice. And I look forward to reading more from this new and exciting author.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Book Review: A Noble Pair of Brothers (The Underwood Mysteries #1)


I read for many reasons, but one of the strongest reasons is that I want to be transported into a world that I think I would really enjoy. There's something so appealing by a story set in the Regency period. A time where men were true gentlemen and ladies were refined and demure. That doesn't mean I view the period through rose tinted glasses, far from it.

But the period instantly appealed to me, and even the blurb doesn't give everything away. Is this a mystery, a historical romance, a crime thriller? in many ways, it is all of these things.

I actually enjoyed the measured pace and descriptive writing style of the author. Miss Downes leaves nothing to chance; you understand where you are and when you are - and her characters are extremely well drawn and entertaining (Chuffy needs his own book!).

For some, the pace may be too slow. I say don't expect each book to run at lightning speed. A Noble Pair of Brothers works on practically every level I could have wished for.

A professor takes leave to visit his brother, who is a vicar in a quaint English village. Of course, it is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, is the very definition of 'let sleeping dogs lie' and yet, the wily professor is fascinating by the unknown / unmarked grave of the person who died in mysterious circumstances. The beauty of living in England is that there are lots of villages like this, and I grin each time I visit such a place, knowing that the people there all know each other, but don't know me.

The brothers should be like peas in a pod but the author has given them great distinctiveness and even though there is an underlying sub-plot about marrying the women of the story off to well-to-do men, a given of the period, it is a necessary device and welcome diversion from the mystery that slowly unravels.

For some, the pace may be too slow. I say don't expect each book to run at lightning speed. A Noble Pair of Brothers works on practically every level I could have wished for. It took me a while to read it, some of you may devour it more quickly. But I promise you that you will enjoy this first in the series, and I am going to read the second book in due course.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Book Review: The Bones of the Earth (The Bones of the Earth, #1) by Scott Hale


Synopsis: Is it wrong to kill a human … when you’re not human yourself? It’s been two hundred years since the Trauma, a catastrophic event of a now forgotten origin, wreaked havoc upon the Earth, reducing the human population from billions to thousands, and leaving the survivors as prey to humanoid hunters. 

Vrana of the Raven is one of these hunters. Her tribe has made killing humans, now known as the Corrupted, its purpose—to “keep the balance”—to ensure that the Corrupted do not rise to power and lay the Earth to ruin once more. But, one night, in the great northern city-state of Geharra, over ten thousand Corrupted disappear. And if so many can disappear so quickly, what’s to stop it from happening again elsewhere, or to Vrana’s own? Geharra, however, is not the only place to suffer from strange happenings. 

In Caldera, Vrana sleeps fitfully, dreaming of a Void and the Witch trapped within. When she is called upon to travel with Serra, Lucan, and Deimos to the abandoned city, she accepts, but only to get away from Caldera, because the Witch that haunts her nightmares has begun to haunt her days. 

Review: The Bones of the Earth is an extremely intriguing work of horror sci-fi fantasy. Whilst that might seem like a jumble of genres and hard to get working into a single book, author Scott Hale has pulled this off admirably. These days, authors need more than a good story to stand out, so the presentation is important. The book's cover is quite a work of art. It is unusual, makes you want to know more. Is the main character a force for good, or for bad?

 In Vrana, we have a plucky and strong heroine who is thrown into action almost from page one. Her motivations are not too clear to me at first, but as I read more of the book, Vrana's story became more easy to understand, compelling me to read the rest of the book. Scott Hale describes the world he has created beautifully. He does so with great command of English, and the writing is poetic in many aspects, for me, this was the star of the book.

 I read a book in late 2013 that had a similar MC, but this one was male, and seemed a little one dimensional to me. That said I enjoyed how the character killed so many and with ease. Vrana, thankfully, is a more complex character. Her kills always mean something, always having consequences, and I wondered would the hunter become the hunted?

There is a dreamlike quality to the writing that I can only imagine will improve as the author grows in stature. I would recommend this to people who enjoy different genres - there's a great mix of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, adventure in this book, and it works. 

 I love the description of Vrana herself, and the cover art reinforces my view on that. The tribal aspect of the book is interesting too, and will have readers hooked. I would just suggest that readers go beyond the 10% or so that Amazon allow on their preview - this book needs the reader's attention. Once you get into it, you won't leave it down.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Book Review: Sophia (Magic Stone Book One) by J New


Synopsis: Running away from a tragedy for which she blamed herself, Sophia Stone deliberately chose a quiet and solitary life, where her gift would do no more harm. But all that changes when a stranger rushes into the London centre where she works, and demands that she save the life of his dog. Before long they are both running for their lives against a centuries old organisation, hell bent on eradicating witchcraft. 

As assassins are hired, and friends become enemies, will Sophia and Fritz discover who is calling the shots and learn how to stop them? And will her family, forced into hiding remain safe? As they realise their chance encounter was anything but, and they have more in common than they thought, will they live long enough to act on their mutual desire and begin the process of healing? Or will their future be doomed before it’s even begun? 

Review: Sophia is the first book in the Stone Magic series, and if one thing is for certain, this is going to be a magical tale.

J New is an author that is growing with authority with each and every book she pens. From the horror and twisted tales in Predator or Prey, to the whimsical light mystery An Accident Murder - truthfully, we don't know what she is going to come up with next!

That said, penning a tale about magic and the sisterly witches that practise them, was never going to be easy. Then we learn that this is book one in a five book series!

As with the author's other books, this is an easy to read tale that reveals more layers as you progress through the story.

Obviously the focus in this book is Sophia, but there are a myriad of characters to read through and given the book's relatively short length, it can seem at times like too many characters have been thrust upon you.

Naturally this leads to us thinking, where do Sophia's other sisters and parents fit into the series as a whole. So in considering my review and how to rate this book, I give it a 4 on GoodReads but a 5 on Amazon. I think when the series has been completed as a whole, I may well review my rating upwards.

First and foremost, the cover is immediately eye catching and striking. It's a stunning cover and well done to all those involved in its creation.

In the opening chapter, we get a sense of what Sophia is actually capable of. This is a brilliantly conveyed scene, with the narrative and dialogue in perfect balance.

Later chapters show off the author's great command and use of imagery:

'She saw murders - blood flying onto a bathroom wall, entrails falling like dead snakes onto a pavement....'

This use of language is fantastic and shows that the author treats her readers with respect, in wanting to drag us into the witch's minds.

One of the other sisters, Nadia, says this:

"Magic doesn't care what language you speak, just as long as you understand the words."

As more characters are introduced, slowly but cleverly are inserted their back story. Tabitha (now why wasn't one of my sisters called that?!) was a concert pianist, and the musically inclined amongst us will love these little references.

The book retains the humour in An Accidental Murder.

"My girlfriend used to say she didn't know where everything I ate went. She used to say I had hollow legs."

Of course, the sisterly witches can't be just left to do their thing, and the enemy begins to emerge in the book. I think it is so good, I simply cannot reference it here. But when you see two words beginning with LD, you'll know what I mean.

There is some beautiful language in the book, though the plot is key and in Sophia, it's a killer one.

'People can't tolerate what they don't understand, and fear and ignorance leads to hate and violence.'

So true. When are we going to learn?

Whilst the world tangles and untangles itself, read Sophia. It's a different take on the well worn witch saga.

4.5 very strong stars overall.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Book Review: The Experiencers (The Valiant Chronicles, #1) by Val Tobin


Synopsis: Black ops assassin, Michael Valiant, questions the motives of the government agency that hired and trained him when they order him to neutralize members of a UFO group. After his wife dies in what appears to be a traffic accident, Michael, with the help and support of his partner, pushes aside his doubts and immerses himself in the jobs he needs to complete.

When Michael learns the truth about his wife's death, and uncovers the Agency's true motives, he turns rogue, and helps Carolyn Fairchild, one of their targets and a psychic medium, escape capture.

Their journey takes them from a town in Southern Ontario to the Algonquin wilderness, where they must elude not only the agency that wants to silence them, but also the aliens who want to retrieve Carolyn at any cost. When the aliens come for Carolyn, she is forced to choose between saving herself and saving her daughter, and Michael faces the prospect of losing Carolyn forever.

The Experiencers is the first book in the Valiant Chronicles series of novels. Book two will be released in winter 2015.

Review: The Experiencers is a uniquely engaging read that has an extremely interesting protagonist in Michael Valiant, the aforementioned Black Ops operative in the synopsis. If you look at the story from his point of view, you will read the story in one particular way.

We are introduced to Michael early on, so readers can tell his role will be a pivotal one. An educated guess says that he is the one on the pretty excellent cover.

Later chapters introduce us to Shelly, who is having an affair with a man, whilst considering breaking it off out of some well placed loyalty to her husband.

The early part of the book reads like bottle episodes where the link with the later episodes seemed initially unclear, but that was just my perception. Actually, if you look at the book as a whole, a rather intricate storyline emerges. This is what I think makes The Experiencers a true gem. It's like one of those Russian Dolls. You believe you understand it, you believe you know the characters and their motivations. 

But this is book one in the series, and if you read between the lines, you'll begin to be amazed at the attention Val Tobin has given to her characters.

Each are well drawn and developed. Carolyn was on a par with Michael for me, as I have a spiritual side and the way she explores her talent is pretty amazing. 

Then...there's the aliens. Quite honestly, there is so much going on with this story it demands at least a second reading, which is what I chose to do.

If anything, the second reading is much more enriching. I felt empathy for characters that really didn't touch me on reading one; I imagine as the author constructed her edits for the book, she may have felt the same.

For a debut, this is an extremely well written tale that I imagine will be perfected in book two. I would definitely recommend this book and would give it a very strong 4.5 stars. (So 5 on Amazon, 4 on GoodReads).

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Book Review: Darkly Wood by Max Power

Darkly Wood
"The Wicked Witch of the West was the bad one." Heather Donahue

"Then we should go West." Michael Williams.

- The Blair Witch Project, 1999

Having been on my read list since February, through creating works of my own I have read a number of books in that time. Darkly Wood, by author Max Power, has affected me more than most, and even though I have finished it today, I think I will be thinking about this book for a long, long time.

Darkly Wood has a run time of almost 400 pages, and each page contains magic, mystery, and a dark compelling tale that, like the film I quoted at the top of this review, has no gratuitous scenes and just a few violent segments that are purely in context.

When I was a young kid, I read stories by Ruth Manning-Sanders. She collected many stories, often from the Baltic European states, placing them in book collections like Ghost and Goblins, Witches and Wizards, and so on. Each story was compelling, different, and utterly unforgettable. I still have those books, and many more by Ruth Manning-Sanders, more than 30 years on.

Having completed the book, I scanned through some of the other reviews, and mentions are made to Edgar Allan Poe, and I can understand the comparison.

When the heroine of the story, the plucky and able Daisy May first happens across a book by J S Toner, The Tales of Darkly Wood, and she begins to read the stories contained within, every segment focusses on a single character, and over the next few pages, we are introduced to the character's story, motivations, and back story. Then, as they typically do, their life literally unravels before our eyes. Then the chapter has ended, and we are back with Daisy, who, against her better judgement, seems unable to stay from visiting the Darkly Wood of the title.

I recently read 'Forsaken', a clever story within a story about a writer, and a witch that he would have appeared to have created, now inexplicably able to attack his family in the real world. I never thought, on reading Darkly Wood, that this clever story within a story ultimately brings us, along with Daisy May, to the awful terror that resides within Darkly Wood.

We've all heard those tales. And it was never so expertly summed up than by one uncredited man in The Blair Witch Project when he said "Damn fool kids'll never listen."

Only Daisy May doesn't seek confrontation with the beast. But in line with the boy she cares about, there seems to be only one way to unravel its dark secrets - and enter the cursed place.

The author is from Ireland and the Emerald Isle is famous for its scary places. Indeed, the best horror writers are from Ireland in my view - Bram Stoker, and Sheridan le Fanu to name but two.

In Darkly Wood, each chapter creates a dream like state that really makes you think. I really don't know how the author has created this work - it is a hugely ambitious tale that is woven absolutely superbly.

I was utterly engrossed in the tale, but had to leave it after a few chapters to try and absorb them. On their own, each could have been expanded into a story on their own.

The characters, once introduced, are not ones you will forget. The names are clever - unusual - but very clever, and I could not disagree more with one review that said this story used flowery language. I have read many books that were heading for a strong three or four star rating (or better) only to spoil it with pretentious fluffy words that just killed what could have been a great story.

This story has NONE of that. It's perhaps too clever for anyone who wants blood and guts, endless sex scenes, and a story without a soul. What a soul this book has!

This story is without peer for me. I loved it, absolutely loved it. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Book Review: The Inner Kingdom (Dragon Quest I) by S.R. Gibbs


Think of the fantasies that thrilled you as a child, and influenced me as a writer, and the usual tales, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and others come to the fore. In the case of CS Lewis' body of work, I felt that in author SR Gibb's debut novel, there lay the hallmarks of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

 Of course, this story seeks to stand on its own, and it tells the tale of three sisters, Angie, April and Ashley, who find their normal day to day routine upturned when they find themselves in a fantastical world, full of danger, thrills and excitement. The book has quite a large cast of characters, but as the action all surrounds the three sisters, and often the chapter focus is told from one sister's POV, it's an enjoyable and always engaging read.

 In particular, I loved the ending. It was a great reveal, that I didn't see coming. Thankfully, the author has another tale in the works. I think SR Gibbs is very talented and will hopefully delight us with a new release soon.

Monday, 8 December 2014

GoodReads Giveaway: Murderous Little Darlings (A Tale of Vampires #1)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Murderous Little Darlings by John    Hennessy

Murderous Little Darlings

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends January 01, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Friday, 21 November 2014

Murderous Little Darlings: Paperback Release Announcement!

Hello friends and hope you're having an amazing day.

"Now hear this!" as Lt. Dan says in Forrest Gump.

The Kindle version of my first book in the Tale of Vampires series has been out for  a while now and you can get the e-version here but this post is specifically about the paperback version.

It's done now, so expect it on Amazon soon. Here's a look at the front and back cover.

Murderous Little Darlings is the first in a series of seven tales of vampires. Expect the series to twist and turn, but all relate, once the series has ended. Each story can be read as a standalone too.

I hope you'll give it a go. I had a blast writing this!

Happy reading and writing!